Johany Jutras first started shooting football as a kid while bored at her brothers’ amateur games. She’d snap action photos of her brothers and soon the other players were clamoring for Johany Jutras shots that they too could use to lure talent scouts. While football has been a part of her creative endeavors her whole life, to get where she is today—in CFL locker rooms and soaring over cities in helicopters—took an entrepreneurial leap of faith in the midst of a struggling freelance photography career.
Last year, not quite satisfied with the gigs she was landing, she sold everything she owned and embarked on an epic road trip to every football town from Montreal to Vancouver where she’d spend a week getting to know the teams, fans, and soaking up the distinct personalities of each network. Her goal was to capture the culture of the CFL from local game-day rituals to deeply rooted rivalries. In the process she made contacts that would turn her career around and by the end of the season, she compiled a 124-page hardcover book called Our League, Our Country, which she self-published and sold more than 2,500 copies. This passion project put her on the map and she credits it with landing her most loyal clients today, including the CFL.
“I was really unhappy and not making that much anyway so I decided to just sell it all and go for it.”
Today Johany shoots around 2,000 photos each game, two-to-three times per week. She sends her clients 30-40 selects throughout the game that they push out on social media channels and then post-game combs through to find a hundred more winning shots. “I think people hire me because I capture emotion and I can get incognito. I love when people say they forgot I was there,” she says.
Her photographs are used across social media and in advertisements for major brands. But not just a great storyteller by trade for her clients, which include Lululemon, Cirque Du Soleil, and individual CFL teams, Johany also turns that storytelling power on herself to promote the passion project that landed her dream job. A savvy self-marketer, she uses her engaged social media following on Twitter and Instagram to show the behind-the-scenes look at her work, which not only raises awareness about her skills to potential clients, but acts as subtle story-based “advertisements” for her book.
You have to ask yourself: "what will you sacrifice?"
🎥 Gran.D.Tour's coverage of my #CFLRoadTrip continues…
— Johany Jutras (@johanyjutras) October 5, 2016
This December, she plans to re-invest in the project and print an additional 2,500 copies just in time for holiday shopping. But knowing she won’t reach her goal of becoming a best-selling self-published author if she doesn’t put some marketing elbow grease behind her work, she uses each game as a content and social media marketing opportunity. From sharing photos on Twitter from the sidelines to spinning visual recaps about each week that showcase insights about the profession alongside her winning shots, she makes sure to both deliver rich content and give her fans numerous opportunities to buy her book. Every game she’s hired to shoot then becomes an opportunity to get in front of CFL fans on social media who might be interested in her product.
Any professional book marketer will tell you that authors need a platform in oder to sell books. Johany embedded gathering a social media following into her strategy since before her book ever hit shelves. That means that when it came time to move her product, she already had an engaged audience, which she stays in front of with regular, rich visual content—and just as importantly, clear calls to action to buy her book.
Read about her wild 2016 season so far in this captivating Spark Page series, and see if she doesn’t inspire you to start telling your story.
And to get a real-time look at her life as a sports photographer, follow along this weekend on Instagram as Johany takes over the Adobe Spark account to shoot from helicopters and the Ottawa sidelines at this weekend’s big game.